MLB Rumors

Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts: 'Strongest I've ever felt'
by Larry Hartstein |

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has been working out at the EXOS performance institute in Arizona, the facility where second baseman Dustin Pedroia trains every offseason. says Bogaerts feels he's pushed himself more than ever before, "and the results are showing."

"This is probably the strongest I’ve ever felt going into a season -- and by far,” Bogaerts said, via the website. “I’m definitely real excited for the season.”

Bogaerts, 22, had an up-and-down 2014 season, his first full year in the majors. He finished at .240 with 12 homers and 46 RBI in 144 games.

He'll spend a few more weeks training in Arizona before reporting to spring training.

“I kind of never challenged my body to lift heavier weights because I’ve always tried to kind of maintain the same,” Bogaerts said. “Getting the knowledge from those kind of guys and just trusting the whole system that they have over there and just pushing your body, it’s really a difference than any years I’ve had in the past.

“It was mostly gym and conditioning and speed and stuff like that, power and speed. It was definitely something that I really enjoyed.”

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Report: Pirates sign Wilkin Castillo to minor-league contract
by Sean d'Oliveira |

The Pirates signed catcher Wilkin Castillo to a minor-league contract Wednesday, sources told Fox Sports. The deal includes an invite to spring training.

Castillo is a career .314 hitter in 35 at-bats.

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White Sox sign second baseman Gordon Beckham
by Sean d'Oliveira |

The White Sox signed second baseman Gordon Beckham  to a one-year, $2 million contract, the team announced.

Beckham spent more than five seasons with the White Sox. He is a career .245 hitter and is expected to play in a utility role. To make room for Beckham, the team designated Dayan Viciedo for assignment.

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Masahiro Tanaka says his elbow feels good
by Larry Hartstein |

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka told the Japan Times that his elbow feels fine as he prepares for spring training, per The Star-Ledger. Tanaka has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament that could eventually require Tommy John surgery.

Tanaka missed more than two months last season due to the injury. After the layoff, he was able to make two starts toward the end of the season and finished 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA.

"So far, so good -- including that [elbow]," Tanaka said.

The Yankees signed Tanaka last offseason to a seven-year, $155 million contract.

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Mariners sign catcher John Baker to minor-league contract
by Sean d'Oliveira |

The Mariners signed catcher John Baker to a minor-league contract Wednesday, reports Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The deal includes an invite to spring training. Baker will be given an opportunity to compete for the backup catching position. In 2014, Baker hit .192 with no home runs and 15 RBI in 182 at-bats.

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Joe Blanton to throw at open workout Feb. 4
by Larry Hartstein |

Pitcher Joe Blanton will hold an open workout and throw a bullpen session for interested teams on Feb. 4 in the Nashville area, reports Blanton, 34, made two starts for Oakland's Triple-A team last year. The report said he's healthy and motivated to pitch this season.

In 2013 with the Angels, Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA.

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Indians 3B Giovanny Urshela expected to be ready for spring training
by Larry Hartstein |

Indians third base prospect Giovanny Urshela, who sprained a knee ligament in a Venezuelan winter league game in November, should be ready for spring training, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Urshela, 23, is considered the most skilled defensive third baseman in the organization.

He likely will begin the season at Triple-A Columbus, but "could get a look" if Lonnie Chisenhall falters, the paper said.

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Report: Nationals sign pitcher Casey Janssen to one-year contract
by Sean d'Oliveira |

The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with pitcher Casey Janssen on Wednesday, sources told

The deal also includes a mutual option for the 2016 season and a buyout. In 2014, Janssen made 50 relief appearances and produced a 3.94 ERA.

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Hector Neris considered a 'sleeper' to make Phils' bullpen
by Larry Hartstein |

Coming off an outstanding performance in the Dominican Winter League, reliever Hector Neris is a "sleeper candidate" to earn a spot in the Phillies' bullpen, reports Neris, 25, did not give up a run in 18 innings during the league's regular season, then allowed two runs in 8 1/3 postseason innings.

“It will be interesting to see who kind of takes the bull by the horns,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the website. “We’re going to give some people opportunities to pitch, and typically what happens is the guy that’s performing the best and the guy that’s throwing the most consistently toward the end of spring, those are the guys that will make the club.”

Neris made his major-league debut last August, earning a win with one scoreless inning. That was his only appearance with the Phils.

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Report: Mets not close to trading pitcher Dillon Gee
by Sean d'Oliveira |

While various clubs have expressed interest in Mets pitcher Dillon Gee, the Mets are not in negotiations to trade him anytime soon, reports

In 2014, Gee went 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA. The Mets are less than a month away from spring training and are also believed to be hesitant to depart with any of their starting pitchers.

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